Eco-Chic: Vintage Fashion

G Magazine

Fashion that’s affordable, stylish, individual and good for the planet? Look no further than vintage clothing.

Vintage Fashion

Emma Jean Bridge wears a beanie, $6; stretch top, $4.50; beaded necklace, $3; belt, $6; Skirt, $8; and black leather boots,$25. Total outfit from op shops: $52.50.

Credit: Nick Watt

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You see them everywhere. Those chain stores filled with cheap, mass-produced clothing. Under hot halogens, they flash bright colours with beckoning price tags.

And wide-eyed shoppers, eager for their fashion fix, flock to them, eagerly handing over their hard-earned dollars for the latest look.

The fashion industry decides what stores should stock and, in collaboration with the media, presents a narrow view of what we should wear.

But by deciding to shop in a different way, the style savvy consumer can subvert mainstream fashion and take back control of how and where they spend their fashion dollars.

Much of the latest fashion is disposable, designed to be cheaply made and cheaply priced for short-term use.

But even these items take a long time to decompose, emitting harmful gases into the atmosphere for years as they break down.

A more sustainable outlook on clothing dictates that it needs to last for more than one season.

For the environment-conscious consumer, shopping less frequently, making fewer purchases and replacing fast fashion 'throw-away' buys with carefully chosen, classic clothes is the way to go.

Be your own stylist

Better yet, thinking green can actually encourage fashion experimentation.

'Wardrobe_ remix' is the tag line for the 7,000-member, do-it-yourself fashion collective hosted by Yahoo's photo sharing site Flickr.

Started in 2005 by 32-year-old freelance fashion designer Tricia Royal, wardrobe remixes are inspired by the colourful, original ensembles paraded in the streets of Tokyo's Harajuku district.

Here, the trick to do-it-yourself style is being able to spot the potential in an item of clothing you might already own and combine it with recycled garments and vintage pieces to create new looks.

It's not so much about buying an outfit as restyling and reusing existing clothing - a bit like a game of 'dress ups' - as a way of placing emphasis back onto the individuality of the wearer.

Looking beyond the retail mainstream to develop a more creative approach to the day-to-day business of getting dressed can be fun. Beyond that, it makes our clothes more ecologically sound.

Recycled or secondhand clothing is the only truly environmental fashion option currently available in Australia and represents the very antithesis of conformed fashion.

A wide variety of market stalls, op-shops, specialist stores or the Internet can help you find recycled clothes that offer uniqueness and individuality.

The resurgence of interest in retro garments is also one of the few clothing trends accessible across the social spectrum - from budget-conscious bargain hunters and frock exchange devotees through to vintage couture wearing celebrities.

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